Sunday 31 May 2015

A Textile Story by Grace Woodger

by Grace Woodger

'Millie!' Frances exclaimed. 'What ever have you done?'
            Mildred looked up from the drawing room floor, gesturing helplessly to the quilt on the ground before her. One corner was badly burned, a good few inches of fabric eaten away, and the surrounding squares were singed and stained with soot.
            'Grandmother's quilt, Fannie. Look at it. Mother will never forgive me.'
            'How ever did it happen?' Frances asked. Mildred shifted uncomfortably, avoiding her sister's eye. 'How did it happen, Millie?'
            She sighed. 'Well, if you must know, I was using it as a cape.'
            'A cape?'
            'Yes. And as I turned around the corner flew upwards and landed on the grate, and the edge caught alight. I managed to stamp it out, but I'm afraid it's quite ruined.'
            'Why on earth were you using Grandmama's quilt as a cape?' Said Frances, incredulous.
            Mildred raised her head defiantly, her cheeks flaming. 'I was re-enacting Lancelot and Elaine.'
            'And does Elaine require a cape?'
            'No, but Lancelot does.'
            They stared at each other for a moment, the ruined quilt on the ground between them, before Frances' shoulders began to shake, no longer able to contain her laughter.
            'One day, Mildred,' she laughed. 'You will begin to act like a woman of eighteen, rather than a boy of twelve.'
            'When that day comes, Frances, you have my permission to put me out of my misery.' Her sister retorted, her eyes shining in the dim light from the fire. Sighing heavily, Frances knelt on the floor beside her, picking at the burned edge.
            'Oh, Millie. Look at it.'
            Mildred nodded. 'And she was always so proud of it.'
            'Who, mother?'
            'No, grandmother. She sewed it herself, remember?'
            Frances smiled. 'Yes. No wonder it's quite so threadbare, poor old thing.'
            'Wasn't that a part of her wedding dress?' Mildred pointed to a square.
            'Yes, I think so. And this was one of grandpapa's old work shirts. Quite a lot of these things were his.'
            'And now I've ruined it.' Mildred said, her voice wavering. Frances took her hand.
            'No, not at all. Grandmama made it to tell the story of her and Grandpapa. That story will always be there. Every square is a part of them, as long as we're here to remember.'
            Suddenly, Mildred looked up, wiping her eyes on the back of her hand as she scrambled to her feet. 'Fetch your sewing kit.'
            'Does mother still have the old baby blankets?'
            'Why, yes, but...'
            'I'm sure I can find some of mother's old things. She must have lots we can use.'
            Frances stood up. 'Use for what, Mildred?'

            Mildred beamed at her. 'We can repair it, Frances. Add our own squares to replace the ones I burned. You're right, I haven't ruined their story. I've merely added another chapter.'

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